We've all been asking ourselves what can the Guardians do to salvage the season? And the matter is only compounded when you look at how weak the AL Central is. Well the bad news is, at this point in time, we are what we are.
But that doesn't mean that this roster can't be tinkered with, there are some internal moves that should be the first domino to fall - and relatively soon too.
For starters, the front office needs to admit the mistake of signing Mike Zunino, and move on from him. Now in fairness, Zunino did miss most of last season with a thoracic outlet syndrome injury. The team and Zunino even admitted during spring training that it may be rough at first, but the results he has produced thus far are nothing short of atrocious.
The batting average is sub .200, wild pitches and passed balls are piling up. Oh and he's not even close to leave average when throwing out runners. Things are bad behind the dish. If only we had a top catching prospect we could insert.
Oh what's that you say? We do have a catcher tearing up Columbus?? Well I'll be darned. Ok, all joking aside, it's time for the front office to call Bo Naylor up, and make it permanent. He's having a phenomenal season at the plate, currently hitting .250 with and OPS pushing .900! Heck the primary DH in Columbus, Zack Collins is also a catcher by trade and has 22 XBH through his first 47 games.
The second move this front office should consider is trading Amed Rosario to the Dodgers, or another shortstop starved team. At this point there is virtually zero chance that he resigns with the club and the team would be doing a great disservice to the current roster by not moving on from Amed.
The list of replacements at short is long. But the most tantalizing one sees Andres Gimenez moving to short and promoting Brayan Rocchio to play second full time (sprinkle in Tyler Freeman for good measure too). All Rocchio has done is rake in Columbus (20 XBH, 25 RBI, 31 R), and it begs the question what does he have to do to supplant Rosario in Cleveland? Plus, just thinking of the combo of Gimenez and Rocchio defensively, oh how that would instantly fix the defensive woes up the middle of the infield.
Now the final aspect of the roster that I truly believe can be remedied internally is the pen. There are guys in the current Guardians pen that have had issues with adapting to the pitch clock. The good news is that between Hunter Gaddis, Touki Toussaint, and the soon to return Cody Morris the team has options. In addition Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie look to be re-joining the club in the next week or so, which will theoretically push two guys out of the current starting rotation. Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee have more than held their own since beining inserted into the rotation. And as long as Shane Bieber is still in a Guardians uniform, there's no way you will remove him from the rotation.
So the real question appears to come down to Civale and Cal Quantrill, who do you keep in the rotation? And remember that Allen and Bibee will need rest down the stretch to limit innings. It's a good problem to have. And that's assuming that Gavin Williams and Joey Cantillo remain in Columbus for the remainder of the season.
In a round about way the cornucopia of pitching leads us to our last area that needs addressing, the outfield. How you are asking? Well plain and simple, it's probably time to start thinking of making a big trade to acquire some outfield talent. And trading from a position of depth is always a good idea.
A popular hypothetical includes trading Bieber to a team like Baltimore in exchange for a package centered around some of the Orioles outfield depth both already in the bigs and some of their top tier outfielders.
This move would certainly be a blow to some fans, but those paying attention know that the club has a gapping hole in the outfield. Outside of Steven Kwan, no one is a lock to remain in the outfield long-term. Gabriel Arias has flashed some ability during his limited time - but he may ultimately profile best as a super utility bench guy.
On paper it seems so simple for the Guardians to get some momentum going. Promote a few guys, get some others healthy, and swing a trade. If the team is going to lose 80 games this year, we may as well avoid the sins of last year's club and finally get answers on these prospects. It's bad enough that Tyler Freeman and David Fry have been promoted and can't crack this lineup. Let's pull the rip-cord on some of this dead weight, and turn this ship around.